The first woman to be U.S. secretary of State received a standing ovation at Thursday night’s Washington premiere for the first fictional leader of the State Department.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served under former President Clinton, shared the red carpet with actress Téa Leoni and Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, one of the executive producers on “Madam Secretary.”
The Institute of Peace hosted the premiere, which will air for the first time Sunday night on CBS. The show tells the story of a former CIA analyst who suddenly becomes the secretary of State.
Albright gave Leoni some advice on what it’s like to be the top diplomat for the United States.
“The thing that I remember most about [Albright] when she talked about the job was how much she enjoyed it and how much enthusiasm she brought to it. I thought that was really inspiring,” Barbara Hall, another executive producer on the show, told The Hill.
Leoni, a UNICEF ambassador, was approached with “Madam Secretary” only days after her trip visiting Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.
“I had just gotten back from Amman, Jordan and I think it was within two or three days that this script came across my desk,” Leoni told The Hill. “I only lived in California for 20 years but enough time for that kind of coincidence to feel like karma, man.”
“Madame Secretary” is the latest in a string of television shows highlighting Hollywood’s obsession with Washington, following “Veep,” “Scandal” and “House of Cards.”
And of course there’s “The West Wing,” a show still beloved by many in Washington.
All of those programs focus on the White House, which usually gets star billing when Hollywood comes to town. Freeman said he got involved with “Madame Secretary” because he felt the State Department was one area that hadn’t been explored.
“The State Department itself is kind of a character,” fellow executive producer Hall told reporters. “We wanted to pull the curtain back on the inner workings of the State Department.”
“It comes out of wanting to tell the story of kind of an outsider and someone who brings in news ideas but a powerful woman who also maintains a home life.”